Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Xie Zhenhua at the UN climate change conference, December 2008

A high-powered group of senior Republicans and Democrats led two missions to China in the final months of the Bush administration for secret backchannel negotiations aimed at securing a deal on joint US-Chinese action on climate change.

The initiative, involving John Holdren, now the White House science adviser, and others who went on to positions in Barack Obama’s administration, produced a draft agreement in March, barely two months after the Democrat assumed the presidency…

“My sense is that we are now working towards something in the fall,” said Bill Chandler, director of the energy and climate programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the driving force behind the talks. “It will be serious. It will be substantive, and it will happen.”


John Holdren, head of White House science office
Daylife/Washington Post/Newsweek used by permission

The secret missions suggest that advisers to Obama came to power firmly focused on getting a US-China understanding in the run-up to the crucial UN meeting in Copenhagen this December, which is aimed at sealing a global deal to slash greenhouse gas emissions. In her first policy address the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said she wanted to recast the broad US-China relationship around the central issue of climate change. She also stopped in Beijing on her first foreign tour…

The first communications, in the autumn of 2007, were initiated by the Chinese. Xie Zhenhua, the vice-chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s central economic planning body, made the first move by expressing interest in a co-operative effort on carbon capture and storage and other technologies with the US…

Taiya Smith, an adviser on China to Bush’s treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, who was at the first of the two sessions, said: “The thing that came out of it that was priceless was the recognition on both sides that what China was doing to [reduce] the effects of climate change were not very well known,” she said. “After these discussions was a real public campaign by the Chinese government to try to make people aware of what they were doing. We started to see the Chinese take a different tone which was that ‘we are active and engaged in trying to solve the problem’.”

RTFA. A good deal we haven’t heard about before. Seems clear the Chinese expected the same election results many activists did. And in 2007 and 2008, it was possible to get a bipartisan working group together from the United States – for bilateral talks.

No surprise that some of the folks taking part in those discussions ended up in Obama’s administration.




  1. Ah_Yea says:

    This is so hilariously stupid it makes me want to laugh – then cry.

    The Chinese are never, ever, going to voluntarily, on their own dime, do anything at all about pollution control, carbon emissions, or anything else.

    “After these discussions was a real public campaign by the Chinese government to try to make people aware of what they were doing.” Har!!! Chinese government propaganda. A few steps south of the truth…

    That is, unless they can earn a buck.

    Here is the catch phrase “a co-operative effort on carbon capture and storage and other technologies with the US…”

    Let’s rephrase this: “You, United States, transfer your technology to us, and then you, United States, pay us to use it, and then we, China, will consider it”.

    Can we say “Cap and trade?”

    We first send our jobs to China because they have an unfair advantage – they don’t pay the ‘environmental tax’ to keep their country clean, then we send our money over to China through huge trade imbalances, and now we pay them to clean up their mess!

    What idiots we are!!

  2. JimR says:

    “China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost.

    While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month.”

    http://nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11coal.html

  3. Global Stupidity says:

    Find me even ONE of these so called intelligent scientists that are “in consensus” amongst themselves, to tell me where exactly I can find a greenhouse that pollutes? They keep calling greenhouse gases evil, show me ONE of these polluting greenhouses, just one, they don’t exist. Next, I would like to know where there is proof that greenhouses are full of carbon dioxide. Since greenhouses are mostly full of plants, it seems that all the science indicates that they convert any co2 into oxygen, thus, greenhouses are full of noxious oxygen gasses. Thus, the term greenhouse gases means plenty of oxygen and very little co2 but lots of stupid greedy scientists with noxious egos.

  4. stopher2475 says:

    Um, they call them greenhouse gasses because of their greenhouse like property to trap heat, not because greenhouses cause pollution.

  5. JimR says:

    So, Ah_Yea, surprisingly, it seems that the opposite of what you are worrying about is already happening. The USA will be asking China for their technology. What do you say now?

    The USA is dying by it’s own hand. Suicide. The level of corruption in financial and governing sectors… a broken system 30 years in the making… is staggering.

  6. Dallas says:

    $5 You are right on.

    Despite being a big polluter (largely due to US outsourcing manufacturing there), ironically China is also a leader in using modern energy producing technologies.

  7. JimR says:

    Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Life as we know it, flourishes in a greenhouse climate. In fact, most greenhouses are supplemented with additional CO2 to maintain a healthy crop.

    It’s the other pollutants in both water and air that I’m more concerned about.

  8. GigG says:

    So if this all goes through and the greenies get what they want out of it, will GWB get the credit for getting it started?

  9. Ah_Yea says:

    #2, JimR, good link.
    It’s good that China has learned how to commercialize clean coal plants, although I am concerned with these quotes from the SAME ARTICLE “Only half the country’s coal-fired power plants have the emissions control equipment to remove sulfur compounds that cause acid rain, and even power plants with that technology do not always use it. China has not begun regulating some of the emissions that lead to heavy smog in big cities.
    Even among China’s newly built plants, not all are modern. Only about 60 percent of the new plants are being built using newer technology that is highly efficient, but more expensive”

    In other words, we are still going to pay for it. Watch.

    Also, More about China’s air pollution problem. “China, the world’s fastest growing economy, has earned another startling superlative: the highest annual incidence of premature deaths triggered by air pollution in the world, according to a new study.
    A World Health Organization (WHO) report estimates that diseases triggered by indoor and outdoor air pollution kill 656,000 Chinese citizens each year. … The total number of Chinese whose lives are cut short by pollution-triggered diseases aligns closely with the figures that were reportedly left out of a recent World Bank study.
    China’s State Environmental Protection Agency engineered the removal of the statistics, the Financial Times reported, because the government feared the figures could trigger social unrest.”
    http://tinyurl.com/q3tkn3

  10. MikeN says:

    #2 JimR, this is because the US blocks more coal plants too much, bot because of superior Chinese technology. Overall the US is still more efficient, because China has so many older inefficient plants, but that advantage will disappear as China builds more good plants. They are adding almost a hundred gigawatts a year.

    China is the global leader in emissions, and growing fast. Their levels are so high that even 80% reductions in emissions by the US and Europe will do little. According to the same models that the IPCC uses to predict 5 degree temperature changes, an 80% reduction will reduce temperatures by about 1 degree out of that 5, and just .5 degrees if the US alone acts.

  11. MikeN says:

    John Holdren is the guy who helped doomsayer Paul Ehrlich lose his beet with Julian Simon about shortages in metals.

    Now those doomsayers go on and just predict doom again.

  12. MikeN says:

    This sounds like its like the Russia deal, where they will sign on to global warming accords because it means money for Russia(thanks to a high baseline of emissions, so they really aren’t cutting anything). Meanwhile, their scientists say they don’t believe that global warming is happening at catastrophic levels.

  13. JimR says:

    Re: #9, Ah_Yea, I wonder who is paying what to whom? China has lent the USA a ton of money already (a trillion?) to help bail out the Fanny Pack et al. In fact if China decides not to lend you any more…well, it’ll be bad.

    …China’s U.S. debt holdings

    It’s a real mess eh? 🙁

  14. BigBoyBC says:

    China huh!!

    Aren’t these the same people who are/were going to sell carbon credits based upon the success of their “population control program”?

    In other words, sell the carbon credits that one of their forced obortion fetuses would have used if they let the fetus survive…

  15. I thought the only thing W discussed with China regarding global warming was how to A) deny it exists and B) avoid doing anything other than building new coal fired power plants and burning more oil.

  16. MikeN says:

    But Scott China is leading the world in new renewable energy capacity!

  17. Toxic Asshead says:

    As was said – The US is committing suicide. We’re all doomed.

  18. RSweeney says:

    Didn’t it used to be illegal and unconstitutional for anyone other than the executive branch to negotiate with other governments on treaties?

  19. jbella says:

    “Next, I would like to know where there is proof that greenhouses are full of carbon dioxide. Since greenhouses are mostly full of plants, it seems that all the science indicates that they convert any co2 into oxygen, thus, greenhouses are full of noxious oxygen gasses.”

    As far as I’m concerned.. that takes the prize. Of course greenhouse gasses are those that are found in a greenhouse! classic!

    It’s that kind of stupidity and lack of understanding of science that really has me worried for this country.

  20. #17 – Toxic Asshead,

    As was said – The US is committing suicide. We’re all doomed.

    Ditto for humanity.

  21. Ah_Yea says:

    JimR said: “It’s a real mess eh?”

    Man, that the understatement of the year!!

  22. soundwash says:

    what a huge waste of time and resources.

    personally, this article makes no sense.
    i see no reason why china would commit economic suicide by embracing scandalous carbon policies that will all but
    eliminate its major competitive advantage.

    just as over-bearing enviromental policies have helped to send whole industries
    and jobs out of the America, as soon as China kills it’s cost advantage, companies will move to Indonesia, East Asia and the like.

    imo, this is just a bunch of political hot air. China is on a jobs/stability kick. the last thing it wants is more unemployment.

    China’s growth explosion has enabled many
    Chinese to experience a taste of “the good life” -many for the first time in their lives.

    the longer these workers remain idle, the possibility of labour unrest increases.

    organized labor protests is probably the one thing that strikes fear in the heart of Beijing. especially since China has been trying to move away from it’s standard policy of sending in riot police wherever any uprisings occur.

    -and heaven forbid should it’s workers be unemployed long enough to get a wild hair up
    their butts and think of forming Labour Unions.

    -nope, if anything, i think this is just a puff piece for China to appear in agreement with environmental carbon issues, so as to help support it’s desire to replace the USD
    with the Yuan as the new world reserve currency. (or at least, to ensure the Yuan
    is included in the “basket of currencies”
    to replace the USD.)

    as an aside, this would also give obama’s administration big “marketing points” for
    it’s next election cycle if they can say they got the mighty Chinese Empire to see the err of it’s ways. (etc etc)

    (-personally, i’d much rather they address water pollution. i mean, 1billion+ people must produce a massive amount of waste that gets piped straight into the ocean.. (not to mention the insane amounts of water used by industry to among many other things, process coal.)

    -s


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